From Khan al-Ahmar to Tel Arad
Op-ed: The defense minister, who immigrated to Israel years after the initial expulsion of the Jahalin Bedouin tribe from their homes, wants to evict Khan al-Ahmar's residents out of concern for their safety; If Lieberman were concerned about their security and health, he would not have insisted on expelling them to a waste landfill or a sewage treatment facility.
The Supreme Court has never been regarded, in both public and political discourse, as a shining knight of human rights in the West Bank territory, as seen in the case of Khan al-Ahmar, a Bedouin village in the West Bank slated for demolition.
The court has not intervened in the decisions of the Israeli government, the army, and Civil Administration officials in the daily affairs of Palestinians, in the demolition orders against their homes, and the decisions to expropriate Palestinian lands and establish Jewish settlements in those areas.
Most Palestinian petitions have been rejected by the court in rulings which found no grounds to intervene in these matters.
In September 5, at the final Supreme Court hearing regarding Khan al-Ahmar, the court dismissed the petition on the grounds that the hearing had been final and that the decision issued in May 2018—by a panel headed by settler Judge N. Solberg—could not be re-opened.
Although the subject of the petition—a detailed outline plan submitted by the residents of the village to the Civil Administration's planning bureau—had never been discussed in court, the court decided to dismiss the petition.
The court had also ignored the claim of discrimination raised by Khan al-Ahmar's Palestinian residents regarding illegal construction in Kfar Adumim settlement, which is located next to the village.
In Kfar Adumim, hundreds of buildings have been built without building permits and without approved plans. Demolition orders have sometimes been issued by the Civil Administration, but those orders have never been implemented and will not be implemented in the future. The purpose of the planning laws regarding demolition is to deal only with 'illegal' construction by Palestinians.
In fact, the planning system Israel has created in the West Bank is intended to serve the interests of the settlement construction project, at the expense of the Palestinians, while ignoring their needs.
The government of Israel insists on demolishing the village of Khan al-Ahmar and plans to expel its residents from the area, even though these are private lands registered in the Lands Registry in the name of Palestinian residents of Anata, who have agreed to allow the Bedouin residents of the village to remain there.
If the State of Israel implements its plan and expels the residents, this will be the second deportation of the Abu Dahouk Jahalin tribe, whose first expulsion was carried out by Israel in 1953, from their lands in Tel Arad in the Negev.
Avigdor Lieberman, the Israeli defense minister who immigrated to Israel many years after the expulsion of the Bedouins from Tel Arad and the establishment of Khan al-Ahmar, published an opinion piece in English in the Jerusalem Post a few days ago, full of errors and deceptions.
Lieberman stated that the government had decided to implement a court ruling to evict Khan al-Ahmar residents to another location. But in fact, in its decision the court gave no such order to evict the residents of the village or to demolish their homes.
The court ruled that it would not intervene in any decision made by the government, and that the government was free to destroy or keep the village.
Lieberman claims that the Bedouin huts had been built illegally next to a main highway, endangering the villagers, and especially the school's students. But the residents submitted a detailed outline plan to move the village's homes from the main road and informed the court that they were willing to move hundreds of meters away from the road.
If Lieberman were concerned about the security and health of these Palestinian residents, he would not have insisted on expelling them to the waste landfill or alternatively to a site near a sewage treatment facility.
Lieberman also claims that the Supreme Court is independent in its decisions and that it has received a high rating from respected international bodies on the independence of its decisions.
But the Supreme Court is an inseparable part of the state, which views Palestinians as subjects without political, national or even civil rights. The Israeli Supreme Court is part of the occupation regime.
Even the independence of the Supreme Court is questionable when considering the government's crude interference in the appointment of judges. Some judges have been appointed according to their political views, and today there are at least two judges who live in the occupied territories, and others with particularly right-wing views.
The defense minister rejects the international criticism of the Supreme Court's decision and the intention to destroy the village of Khan al-Ahmar, claiming that it is an internal matter of Israel.
Lieberman is apparently forgetting that this is occupied territory, a fact recognized by all nations of the world, including Israel's US ally. As such, the rules of international law, including the Fourth Geneva Convention, which prohibits the expulsion of local residents or settling citizens of the occupying state in the occupied territory, apply to this area.
According to the same rules, Israeli courts have no authority over the Palestinian residents and the occupied territories. However, the State of Israel is the powerful occupying power here, and it has decided to ignore the rules of international law and the very existence of Palestinian courts.
The Supreme Court has even authorized jurisdiction of the Jerusalem District Court over land matters applying to the West Bank, and so it has over-ridden the natural role and authority of the Palestinian court.
All this, in order to facilitate Israeli takeover over the most valuable resources in the occupied territories—the land, and to establish and expand Jewish settlements there.
Lieberman rejects the international community's demand to refrain from destroying Khan al-Ahmar and says that will not happen on his watch, but his real intention is about the watch of someone else: Donald Trump's.
Lieberman believes it is expedient to 'clean' the area of Palestinians while Trump is in office. An opportunity that will not be repeated in the future.
However, Lieberman is wrong here, too: even if Al Khan al-Ahmar is destroyed, the Palestinian Bedouins will not disappear, they will remain in their place. Unless they are offered a return to their own land in Tel Arad.
Adv. Tawfiq Jabareen represented the residents of Al Khan al Ahmar in the petition they submitted in July 2018.